Avi Barot, the former India Under-19 captain and wicketkeeper-batter who was part of Saurashtra’s Ranji Trophy champions team, died of a cardiac arrest while watching the Indian Premier League (IPL) final at his residence in Ahmedabad on Friday night. He died just five days after he smashed 72 off 43 balls in the final of Reliance G-1 T20 tournament and helped Saurashtra team claim the title in Rajkot on Sunday. He was 29 and is survived by his mother and wife.
“Everyone at Saurashtra Cricket Association deeply shocked and saddened on very shocking, untimely and extremely sad demise of Avi Barot, remarkable and notable Cricketer of Saurashtra. He left for heavenly abode in the evening of 15th October 2021 due to severe cardiac arrest,” Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) said in a release.
SCA president Jaydev Sah said the Association and teammates are in deep shock. “It’s a very sad news. He suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at his residence in Ahmedabad at around 10 o’clock last night and didn’t survive. This is unbelievable. Twenty-nine is nothing and he was demonstrating it while playing in front of us all just a few days back. I was deeply shocked to receive the news just days after he scored so many runs in Reliance G-1 tournament which he was playing after coming out of an injury,” Shah told The Indian Express.
Our hearts bleed as outstanding player and very noble being Avi Barot is no more with us. It’s extremely shocking and saddening. May his noble soul be in shelter of benevolent Almighty. Avi, you shall be missed forever #rip @saucricket @GCAMotera @BCCI @BCCIdomestic #cricket pic.twitter.com/wzRONq95JV
— Saurashtra Cricket (@saucricket) October 16, 2021
Barot’s 72 was the highlight of the Reliance G-1 T20 tournament final in Rajkot on October 20. Barot’s knock had propelled Saurashtra to 200 and laid the foundation of the team’s victory against his former team Gujarat in the summit clash.
A native of Ahmedabad, Barot had made his First Class debut as Gujarat Ranji player against Delhi in 2011. The same year, he was appointed captain of India U-19 team. From Gujarat, he moved to Haryana Ranji team but eventually migrated back to state of Gujarat and joined Rajkot-based Saurashtra Ranji team in 2016-17 season. Since then, he used to keep wickets and open batting for Saurashtra.
Barot played 38 First Class matches and scored 1547 matches at an average of 24.95, including one century and nine half-centuries. In 38 List A matches that he played, Barot scored 1030 runs at an average of 28.61 , including eight fifties. However, he excelled in the shortest format of the game, scoring 717 runs in 20 T20 matches at an average of 37.73. He had one century and five half-centuries to his credit in T20 matches. He also used to bowl off-break and had claimed total 11 wickets across the three formats.
Barot represented Saurashtra in 21 Ranji Trophy matches, 17 List A matches and 11 domestic T20 matches. He was part of the Saurashtra team which won the Ranji Trophy title in March 2020 by defeating Bengal in the finals in Rajkot. He had also grabbed headlines by smashing 122 off 53 balls in a match of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the BCCI’s domestic T20 tournament.
SCA secretary Himanshu Shah said that Barod had been in good batting form for the past two seasons. “Since the last two seasons, he was in extremely good form. The way he was playing in T20, I was in fact very hopeful that he would be picked in the new season of IPL. But it’s extremely tough to take this. I really couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the news of his death. This is an unbelievable tragedy. Just a few years back, he had lost his father in a similar manner when he was just 42 or 43,” said the secretary.
The SCA president said that Saurashtra will remember Barot as a cheerful cricketer. “The best part about him was that he would always be in a happy state of mind. He would always be a happy and bubbly kind of person,” said Jaydev Shah.
Incidentally, Jaydev Shah was captain of Saurashtra Ranji team when Barot joined it. “This is absolutely shocking and painful to learn about Avi’s sad demise. He was great teammate and had great Cricketing skill. In all recent domestic matches, he had performed remarkably well. He was very friendly and noble human being. We all at Saurashtra Cricket Association are in deep shock,” the release quoted the SCA president as saying.
Saurashtra team coach Sitanshu Kotak said the team is shattered. “A player dying at a young age of 29—this has never happened in the 50-year-long history of the Saurashtra team. Our mind and heart go to his family. He was such a lively character. Just four days ago, he smacked 73 and led us to victory and now, we shall never ever be able to see him again. That is all. He was a brilliant cricketer but our hearts go to Avi, the individual. Boys in the team and SCA office-bears can’t still believe that this has happened. It’s easy to be said that God had willed him only so short a life but that is easier said than accepted,” Kotak said.